Last week I attended Astricon 2017, in Orlando, FL. I’ve attended every Astricon since 2007, each time as a speaker – and last week was the first time as a sponsor. People normally believe that companies sponsor things in trade shows according to the exposure they want to get, that is normally true. However, for Greenfield, sponsorship meant something else. We wanted to sponsor something that meant something for us, which means, an event within the conference we feel close to and see a value to the community. As a result, we’ve decided to sponsor Dangerous Demos, which had become during the past few years one of the highlights of the show. To those who are not familiar, Dangerous Demos is a section of the show, where talented developers/makers/inventors will come up on stage, showing off a cool thing they created – preferably, during the course of the conference or demoing a cool proof of concept. Why does Greenfield have an affinity to Dangerous Demos? Simple, as the makers of cloudonix.io we see ourselves and makers and innovators, thus, we felt that putting our name on this section would best represent the things we believe in.

Now, while most of the demos that were presented indeed showed original work and high level of talent, I can’t stress out how disgusted I was with “false dangerous demos” that came on stage. With all due respect, going on the stage and showing off a feature of a commercial product is simply not the spirit of dangerous demos. This is all about being original, being cheeky, walking on the bleeding edge willing to fail publicly and having a good laugh about it. For me, Dangerous Demos is very much like climbing Mt. Everest – We climb it because it’s there and its a challenge. We want to climb it with our feet and grit, not reach the top of the mountain with a helicopter. Yes, indeed the feature shown by company X or Y had talented people work on it, but there is no risk associated with it – as the feature simply works.

This years’ Astricon marked a special occasion, this was the first time that all leading Open Source VoIP projects participated in the show: Asterisk, Freeswitch, Kamailio, OpenSIPS and Homer. Now, for those who are new to this community, this would seem like something trivial and meaningless. For someone like me, who had been with these projects for over a decade, it’s nothing short than a miracle for something like this to happen. Some may not know this, but Freeswitch developer were originally working on the Asterisk project, while OpenSIPS developers were originally working on the Kamailio (OpenSER) project. The projects branched off due to differences of opinions between people, hence the splits. For example, while Freeswitch people were a little fed-up with the methodology with which Digium was accepting patches to the project, the OpenSIPS project people wanted to go to a more “market oriented” product, while the original OpenSER was fairly “Academic” in nature. The diversity of people and diversity of opinions is the thing that drove all these projects to their success. Nonetheless, when the projects split, some invisible “bad-blood” could have been sensed. Since the various splits, over a decade passed and I believe that the various projects had come to accept one another. Where one project took one path, the other took another, eventually turning each project into its own unique being, instead of being a mere competitive clone. I’ve known most of the people involved in these projects and their creation over the years and during previous years, it was always hard to get them to talk, due to these feelings. Last week was the first time that some of them met face-to-face in over 12 years, which was impressive. I’m not sure exactly who is the person behind this “summit of the minds”, but who ever they are, they need to keep this up and make sure that the projects keep on innovating and succeeding.

Now, let’s talk content. The overall panel of talks and presentations that Astricon boasts is nothing short of amazing. The sheer number of speakers and subjects turns the event to something that is sometimes confusing and hard to attend. Multiple talks at the same time, on 4-5 different tracks, with multiple points of interest always pose a hard choice – “What should I attend?”. However, this year was one of the most packed ones. For example, during the pre-conference day (AKA: DevCon), RedHat held a “NFV Track” which I really wanted to attend, but couldn’t, as I was attending DevCon. I wanted to attend some of the container talks, but couldn’t, as I was either talking at the same time – or was attending a different talk as well. In other words, I really hope the Video’s are good, as I would be truly disappointed. In this respect, I really like KamailioWorld. This one has one track, mostly technical in nature – and you can attend all the talks. It’s not because there aren’t enough speakers, I’m confident that many people answer the call-for-papers, it’s simply a choice of the organizers. In the past, Astricon used to have 3 tracks, thus the choice was simpler. I believe that maybe adding another day to the conference, or changing the format a little bit will enable people to get more from the conference.

I have other thoughts, but I believe these are the primary ones. C’ya all again next year @Astricon 2018.

 

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-14-35-15How disappointing – one of my favorite childhood books lied to me. I’m 42 today, really, today I’m 42 – and yet, I still don’t have answers to the my own personal ultimate questions of life. I’m truly disappointed, I guess the universe just decided to play a really horrible joke on all of us geeks out there – when reaching the age of 42….

But, having said that, I do believe that I don’t have answers to the ultimate questions – I think I have answers to some other questions – mainly, these are more related to my own personal growth, personal acceptance, tolerance and the things I believe in and willing to stand for.

No, I’m not Superman or have any super powers – and while I’m a firm believer in the “American Way”, I can’t stay that I stand for it. What I do stand for, well, I would say in global that if one would try to describe the thing I stand for the most – that would be “Tolerance”. Tolerance is the thing that differentiates us from animals, from barbarians, from little babies that want something that another baby holds – and will stop at nothing to get it. Tolerance is the ability to look at things from a Macro level, not a Micro level. Tolerance is the ability to look at systems (technical, human, organizational, etc) and say: “Yes, that part seems a little odd in that place, but it seems that another part performs much better due to that part”. It’s the ability to accept that other people are different than I – and most importantly, being able to accept the fact that while I’m confident I’m right, it doesn’t mean someone else is wrong.

Ok, I can be as sarcastic as anybody else – sometimes sarcasm actually helps us move things forward. But I’ve learned that when I direct my sarcasm towards myself, this is when I actually yield interesting and positive results – not because I put myself down, it’s because I allow myself the benefit of the doubt of saying: “Seriously? like really, this is what you are thinking?”, the minute I do that – I come up with a better concept, which moves me forward – in other words, I’ve learned to judge myself in a more efficient manner.

Honestly, I have ZERO tolerance to the following things:

  1. People who just learned a certain technology and without even understanding it, try to superimpose it into each and every aspect of their work. This is like trying to screw in a philips head screw with a hammer, you’ll get the job done – but the result is messy.
  2. People who can’t listen to other people – if you are talking to me only to hear yourself talking, then get the f*** out of my face, I have no interest in what you have to say.
  3. People who say: “Oh, just give this to me and I’ll fix it” – and are saying it to be funny, you have no idea how annoying that is.
  4. People who say: “You just need to do 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and you’re done”, without actually ever doing it themselves. If you can’t do it, or hadn’t done it with your own two hands, don’t tell me it’s simple and don’t tell me how to do it – because your opinion, as much as I value it, means nothing at that point in time – apart from irritating me.
  5. People who told me they took a class about something, then without even doing anything in that field of education, feel the need to give advice and guidance. That would be like taking a doctor fresh out of med-school, without doing any real time work in the ER or a medical facility – and letting him do open heart surgery. He may know the various theories and methodologies – but hell am I’m gonna allow that f*** wad to touch me with a scalpel.

So, am I turning into a crank guy? maybe, I guess age has its merits and its issues. So, here’s to myself, raising a toast with a wonderful glass of an 18 year old Irish Whiskey – the race has just began…

 

So, it has now been 2 months, since I started my own little social experiment. Early November, I decided to silence down all my mobile device notifications and mute any “distracting interaction” I could find. No, I didn’t silence off my mobile phone completely – it will just make it useless, but I didn’t make it as less intrusive as possible.

So, about 3 weeks ago I decided that it’s high time, to put my trusty Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch to its final resting place. I was contemplating what notebook should I get. My gut feeling told me: “Time for another Lenovo”. But, somewhere in the back of my head was this ever annoying question: “Is a Mac truly better?”. So, in a spur of the moment, I decided to buy a Mac. Because I am what you would define as a power user, I decided to get the most bang out of eace one of my spent dollars.

So, now I’m closing a month with my Mac and combined with my “Hyper – Not!” regime, I started a fairly lengthy road of re-getting used to using a Mac. Have to admit, El-Crapitan has its quirks. Who am I kidding, compared to previous versions, El-Crapitan is somewhat annoying. However, after getting used to its little quirks and kinks, when you combine the Good of the Mac and “Hyper -Not!” – I managed to reach at least a 40% increase in my productivity.

Time that used to be spent on waiting for things to launch properly and setting up on my Lenovo, just cut by almost 70%. Issues of the machine halting on me or requiring a reboot – gone. Issues that required me to go into Task Manager and seek a process to kill – gone!

In other words, I spend far less time on BS and more time on actual work that needs to be done. Previously, I was able to focus on 2 projects – tops. Today, I’m able to focus on 5 different projects and be involved with 2 more. Is it purely to moving to a Mac? I doubt it. Is it purely related to my “Hyper – Not!” regime, i doubt it as well. It must be a combination of the two. How long will I be able to keep this up? donno, I’ll keep you all updated on my findings.

 

Confession – I’m what you would call a Hyper Connected person. I’m constantly connected to my Note 4 mobile phone, I check my mail on a regular basis at least once an hour, my phone constantly beeps with Instant messages and information being delivered directly to my device.

Professional tend to describe Hyper Connectivity as a state called FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out. According to wikipedia, FOMO is:

Fear of missing out or FoMO is “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”.[2] This social angst [3] is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”.[2] FoMO is also defined as a fear of regret,[4] which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, profitable investment or other satisfying event.[2] In other words, FoMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time, as “you can imagine how things could be different”.[4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_of_missing_out

Now, Hyper Connectivity has its associated costs to your life – You are constantly at anybody’s reach, if you are sometimes out of reach – people take it as being rude and eventually, it starts hitting your health and productivity.

So, about 2 weeks ago, I started my own little social experiment – and I decided that everybody on my contact list should be part of this experiment. I’ve done the almost obscene thing to do, I’ve turned my mobile device notifications off. No more SMS beeping, WhatsAPP groups are now muted, e-Mail no longer beeps like crazy.

Initially, for the first two days, I thought I was going mad. My phone was quite, suddenly, I was fully capable of doing the work and having the life I wanted. I was able to concentrate on my tasks, apart from a phone call here and there, I was fully capable of actually getting stuff done – without being interrupted every 15 minutes. Can you imagine living your life in 15 minute intervals? that was the story of my life for the past 5  years.

One of the amazing results of this experiment was that the feeling of “rudeness” was purely in my head only. When people sent me an email, or a text, and I didn’t respond within 30 seconds, or even 30 minutes, people acknowledged as: “ok, he’s probably busy and will return the minute he can”. That had two very interesting impacts: first, when I did reply, I spent enough time thinking about what was asked from me, and I was able to respond in a highly comprehensive manner. The second one was, and that was the shocking bit, I was conversing less by email and text, as things became clearer.

Imagine this, I “communicate less” and “converse more” – amazing!

It also made me realise something else – really productive people aren’t hyper connected, they are hyper engaged. The are fully engaged with what they do, not with the means of communications. The engage their tasks in a dedicated manner, able to focus completely on one task – and getting it done the right way. I also noticed that some of the people on my contact list, the highly successful ones, actually take a fairly lengthy time to respond – not because the are rude – it is because they are respectful. They respect themselves by allowing themselves the time to focus, and they respect their colleagues by focusing on their requirements in a devoted and centred manner.

If like me, you are Hyper Connected, I urge you to try and disconnect for a bit – it will change your world and perspective on how to get things done.

During this years’ Asterisk Developers’ Conference, one of the subjects I’ve raised an issue for Asterisk is: “Federating Multiple Asterisk Instances”. Now, for the seasoned Asterisk user/developer, the answer would be simple – use Kamailio/OpenSIPS for that scalability, and use Asterisk as a Media Gateway or application server.

But I ask the following: “What if we could federate Asterisk without the need for an external component? What if we could federate Asterisk in such a way where our users aren’t event aware of the federation process, and it’s fully autonomous? What would actually be required in order to do that?”

I’m normally confronted with these questions on a day to day basis, looking at the problem from different angles – thinking to myself: “Ok, I know the normal box here – but where are the outer limits? what can I do to make it more robust on one hand, without truly making a mess out of it.”

A federated database is defined as: “A federated database system is a type of meta-database management system (DBMS), which transparently maps multiple autonomous database systems into a single federated database. The constituent databases are interconnected via a computer network and may be geographically decentralized. Since the constituent database systems remain autonomous, a federated database system is a contrastable alternative to the (sometimes daunting) task of merging several disparate databases. A federated database, or virtual database, is a composite of all constituent databases in a federated database system. There is no actual data integration in the constituent disparate databases as a result of data federation.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federated_database_system

So, we would like to virtually create a “map-reduce” functionality for Asterisk? can we truly create a map-reduce’ish functionality for Asterisk? should it be internal? should it be external?

In order to accomplish this, we are required to create a federator – a device capable of handling the information regarding each users, device, trunk, provider and other wise SIP/IAX2 entity connected to our system. The federator for all practical purposes is a data store, be it a key-value store, a database, a shared memory environment or some other form of data distribution layer.

Here are some key issues that true federation may be required to tackle:

  1. Geo-Position Agnostic – A truly federated system should render services identically across the board, regardless of where the user is located.
  2. Services Agnostic – A truly federated system doesn’t care if the user is connected to an Asterisk server version 12 or 13, it should behave identically.
  3. Version Agnostic – A truly federated infrastructure can leverage older version and even other software, without changing the underlying federation layer.
  4. Predictable Scalability – A truly federated infrastructure will allow for growth to be planned linearly, with discrete measure methods.

So, you want a tip on how to start federating your systems? here’s step number 1 – there is no central registry, there is no SIP proxy, there is only the cloud and the services it renders. Start thinking from this point and see where you go.